A writer, editor and author coach, I am especially inspired by the journeys of love and release through the end of life. I write to contribute to how we prepare, individually and collectively, to live and support the final chapter of life. I write to immerse in the moment and to experience the satisfaction that writing can bring.
As a young adult, I meandered through a variety of career emphases in environmental and biomedical sciences before realizing I was called to be an educator. Following my heart into education of gifted children, I enjoyed nearly twenty years, first as a Whole Language, Spanish and art teacher and then as an administrator. With a growing love of children, I courageously became a parent, twice! The joy and purpose I feel in that role continues to be a guiding light in my daily life. Now my two daughters are firmly on the paths of their own journeys through life; I thrill to watch them as they navigate their chosen courses.
In 2006, I grew wings that took me all the way to Toronto, where I joined my life partner and soulmate, Earl (who eventually became my husband). There, I reinvented my career to flexibly accommodate travel between the home of my family of origin in Oklahoma and my new home in Canada. I established my own business as a writer, editor, author coach and self-publisher. It has been my great pleasure to work with other writers as a partner in authorship, or as editor and coach. With each passing day, more topics and opportunities present themselves, and I embrace them with gratitude.
During the months, weeks and days leading up to my father's death, I was present as much as possible. I was with him when he transitioned from this earthly life, so very privileged to be at his side. Later, as my sorrow washed over me in waves, I began to write our very personal story, and I connected with his memory, integrating my grief, through that effort. In 2013, I published the story as a short book.
Since the book's publication as Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad, I have reached out to many grief and bereavement support workers, hospice and palliative care chaplains and end-of-life advocates with an introduction to my book. I make many valued connections as I reach out with this purpose.
With one such connection, Victoria Brewster, MSW, I co-wrote and published another book called Journey’s End: Death, Dying and the End of Life. This book offers unique and comprehensive perspectives, with over 50 contributors sharing their end-of-life experiences and resources.
My most recent book is called It Is What It Is: Learning to Live with My Brain Tumor. And yes, I have a benign but seriously located tumor, and the book gives insight into how I investigated my options and ultimately made a choice about treatment. It’s my hope this book can guide others who have received a serious diagnosis to navigate their own journey of medical decisions. Some of the chapters are humorous, others instructive. It is an intimate and very personal perspective.
One week after its publication in 2018, my husband died of pancreatic cancer, adding another dimension to my previous experience with grief and bereavement. We had nine months to prepare ourselves for the event after learning his diagnosis of Stage IV cancer. Still, this foreknowledge did not diminish the emotional impact of his passing.
I find it harder to write about Earl’s end-of-life than I assumed I would. I’m still integrating and coming to terms with his death. His abiding wish for me was shared as a proclamation: “You will lead a good life, Julie. Just you wait and see.” I’m doing my best to make that come true, and I am grateful to him for all his gifts, especially those that continue to inspire and enrich my life with every day that passes.
My community has been built by reaching out with my books to interested readers, especially to those in the fields of grief and bereavement support or care of the dying. I'm happy to connect to anyone interested in reading my books or having a conversation about their own journey as a writer.
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Julie's interview with Diane Wargalla on June 11, 2021